Sensitivity Training, Aslin Beer Co. (Herndon, VA)

Posted by  Alex Hannagan   in  Beer Reviews     1 year ago     913 Views     Comments Off on Sensitivity Training, Aslin Beer Co. (Herndon, VA)  

I have to give it to fellow writer Ben.  He held onto a whole lot of beer that released this Spring so I could try it when I got back from Kansas.  With the whole NE IPA explosion that made Aslin an obvious candidate to have on hand, but they’re a lot like other well known canning operations such as The Veil – they sell out so fast you’re either in line to get it, or you’re out of luck.  It’s an intriguing plight for nano- and smaller microbreweries.  Do you keg the stuff and have a packed house, or just sell everything to go and close down for the day once you’re done?  Aslin used to have nice mix, but owing to some regulatory nonsense now only does to-go operations out of the brewery.  Which meant Ben had to go stand in line.  By his account, it wrapped around the building.  With his haul he ended up making a mixed four pack of “Special Drops,” several of them collaborations.  One of my favorites out of that pack was Sensitivity Training which, having recently (if briefly) got released again, warrants some discussion.

Sensitivity Training, Aslin Beer Co. (Herndon, VA) and Civil Society Brewing (Jupiter, FL)
New England-Style India Pale Ale, 7% ABV

Presentation:  Tallboy pour into tuliped pint glass.

Appearance:  Hay into pale goldenrod core.  Cloudy day but not completely opaque when the sunlight hits it.  Filthy thick head that persists after you start drinking it, but lattice doesn’t regularly appear.

Taste:  Pineapple and grapefruit nose.  Juicy, “wet,” zesty.  Let’s break that down a bit.  I could tell one of the big Cs was present, which turned out to be Citra providing much of that sort of fresh-squeezed goodness.   It’s alternately dank and earthy, thanks to some Mosaic.  The effect in the finish is that aroma you get when you walk back in the house with a trace of wet dirt on it.  Not quite resin, not quite dew, somewhere in the middle.  It’s a nice effect.  The acidity in the beer comes both in how it interacts with your mouth and alters your tastebuds.  Given that Lemon Drop hops are the final touch, you would think that’s an obvious association, but you’d be wrong.  It’s true that just like the big Cs it will give you lots of citrus aroma and taste, and I think what happened here is that loading up on the two gives an impression akin to how your mouth feels after a swig of orange juice.  It’s an analogy that will make more sense in a second.
Mouth Feel:  My first impression was a beer that was not very bitter, but that acidity threw me for all sorts of loops.  In some ways it was like a Mountain Dew out of a soda fountain, and in others like a mimosa.  The connection between both are two ingredients:  CO2, of course, and orange juice.  That’s right, go look at the ingredients in Mountain Dew again – concentrated OJ is its biggest source of flavor.  That’s the sort of NE effect I was hoping for.  Personally, what NE IPAs do for me is to present all the flavors of the big West Coast IPAs without the palate shredding hoppiness.  They still coat your mouth, to be completely honest, but it feels more natural in how it does so.
Overall:  My first visit to Aslin came more than a year ago, and even back then they were having “problems” keeping more than 2-3 beers on draught at a time.  In some ways a sign of things to come, but even the two I had – a hoppy Saison and a juicy IPA that didn’t quite reach New England latitudes – served as a portent for things to come.  It takes a certain bit of dedication to queue up (what is this, Dunkirk?) and we certainly understand if it’s not your thing to brave the nigh historic heatwaves this July to do so.  But maybe just think about it.  And whatever you do, don’t stare at those lovely cans in front of you.  Someone might consider that harassment.  And then they’ll sign you up for Sensitivity Training.
Score:  8.8